As the CEO of The Campfire Circle, an agency for agencies, I talk to agency owners all day, every day. The main pain point that I hear is that agency owners spend a ton of time doing awesome client work and don’t end up with much time to spend on promoting their own agency. 

New clients are fuel to an agency’s fire. Landing new clients can’t be ignored, or your agency will fail. To help the agencies that I work with stay inspired, I interviewed 50 agency owners and will present the top 14 strategies to land new clients.

Let’s dive in and examine the innovative things agencies are doing to land new clients.

Networking Is Still Crucial

I’ve heard some people say networking doesn’t matter anymore, but in my experience, it’s one of the best ways to land new business. I think at the end of the day, we are humans and still crave actual human interactions.

Amy Bartko is the founder of Chatterbox and shared, “We frequently attend trade shows that are specific to our niche, which is not only an opportunity to see current clients in person but also network and prospect. There is not much face-to-face interaction anymore, so this is a great way to get some much-needed face time.”

Lyle Garcia of eBridge offered, “Our lead generation strategy revolves around actively participating in online communities, where we focus on adding value by providing insightful answers to questions from our target market. We prioritize offering valuable assistance over promotional activities, ensuring that we establish credibility and foster relationships with potential customers. Notably, we have found Reddit to be a particularly active platform for our target market, making it an excellent opportunity for engagement. By consistently contributing in relevant subreddits and addressing user queries, we can effectively establish our presence and generate valuable leads.”

Dan Nistor, co-founder at Vevol Media says, “We establish strategic partnerships with complementary agencies that offer different services like PPC or FB ads to the same audience. While we offer web development only. By collaborating with these agencies, you can leverage their existing client base and tap into new opportunities. This cross-referral system allows both parties to benefit from mutual recommendations.”

Key takeaway: Balance in-person and virtual networking opportunities. Don’t forget about strategic partnerships with agencies that complement yours.

Put a Face to Your Agency

Think about your own purchasing behavior. A lot of people are willing to align themself with an agency and even pay higher fees if the agency has demonstrated expertise.

Harry Morton, founder of Lower Street shared, “If there’s one strategy that has significantly impacted our ability to attract notable clients as a podcast production agency, it’s my choice to be the face of the company. By establishing a strong personal brand, I could showcase my expertise, credibility, and trustworthiness, making potential clients feel more confident in choosing the brand over our competitors.

Moreover, everyone on our team prioritizes the importance of building personal relationships. We positioned ourselves as thought leaders in the podcasting space by actively getting involved in industry discussions, addressing prominent pain points, speaking at conferences, and sharing my insights through various channels. Ultimately, by making myself the face of our agency, we gradually fostered trust, built relationships, and attracted bigger clients to help them achieve their podcasting goals.”

Key takeaway: Put a face to your agency so that brands feel a humanized connection.

Leverage Case Studies

It’s no secret that a third-party recommendation holds a lot of weight. So, let’s look at some expert tips when it comes to leveraging these third-party voices.

Brenton Thomas, the founder of Twibi, advocates, “Create case studies. They are a great way to demonstrate your past successes and show potential clients what you can do for them.”

CEO & Founder of Fifth & Cor, Robin Dimond, shared, “We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: cold sales are dead. Building strong partnerships and a community network for referrals is going to be the key to new business for your agency. People want to work with someone they trust, especially if it’s a high investment, and a highly vetted referral is the next best thing to someone they personally know. Doubling down on your community and partnerships is going to change the game for your business.”

Kristin Marquet, the founder of Marquet Media, understands the value of a third-party recommendation and shared that “word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful tools for any business. We leverage referrals and word-of-mouth marketing to reach potential customers, build relationships, and grow our client base. By utilizing referrals and word-of-mouth, we can increase brand awareness and trust among our target audience while reducing traditional advertising costs. To incentivize referrals even further, we offer attractive rewards or referral programs that make it easier for clients to recommend our agency.”

Gabriel Kaam, CEO & Founder of the KNR Agency, advises, “Sometimes the referrals come organically, sometimes you gotta ask for it. And for that, Linkedin is your friend. I look at my clients’ connections on Linkedin, and I ask for introductions.”

Brandon Schroth, the founder of Reporter Outreach, has great advice. “In just over one year of business, I’ve scaled my agency from 0 to 100 clients, and a huge contributing factor to that has been signing up for various review sites like Clutch, G2, and Google Business Profile. Collecting reviews is extremely important and helps an agency stand out from the pack. We went a step further and purchased a sponsored listing on Clutch in the Top Link Building Companies & Services list. By paying for sponsorship, we’re currently listed as #13 out of over 12,000 firms! This drives a tremendous amount of traffic to our site and subsequently helps us land clients faster than ever.”

Key takeaway: Prioritize earning these endorsements with strategic campaigns and utilize marketing strategies that you are already good at to promote your third-party assets.

Establish Trust and Credibility 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t make an important decision without testing out the waters. Brands looking for agency support thoroughly vet agencies before coming on board. This means one of your most important jobs is to establish credibility. 

Ben Poulton, the founder of Intellar, has great insights about credibility and shared, “I’d have to say that the most unique way that our SEO agency lands new clients is by being honest with them. We’ll tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. We’ll tell them that their site needs a redesign, and we’ll explain why. We’ll tell them that their site needs better content, and we’ll give them ideas for how to do it. We don’t sugarcoat anything—we say what we need to say, and then we let you know how much it will cost and how long it will take. Then we get started! Our experience has been great because almost every client has come back for more work after the first project was done. They’ve told us how much they appreciate our honesty, which means that even though the initial investment might be a little scary, the value they receive from us will be worth it!”

Key takeaway: Prove your expertise by offering something for free, like an audit or consultation. Once you demonstrate your expertise, they’ll be way more likely to come on board as a client at your agency.

Focus On Thought Leadership

From running my agency, I’ve learned that thought leadership is a slow build, but it is very much worth the effort. And the experts I interviewed agreed, and here are my top favorite thought leadership tips.

Clint Butler at Digitaleer provided some thought leadership insights, “Here at Digitaleer, our number one way of getting new clients is through our weekly podcast, SEO This Week. While we’ve obtained plenty of clients via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, video content has by far been the best for us. The video podcasts, and audio counterparts, build brand recognition, and then people seek us out at conferences or on other social media channels. Those interactions lead to more client sign-ups.”

Josh Piepmeier, CEO of Meriwether, shared, “I’ve found that being featured in CXL’s course as an e-commerce SEO instructor has helped me land clients. I landed the feature by networking and connecting with people on LinkedIn and volunteering when the opportunity came up. Then people have seen me featured via CXL’s advertising and reached out. So I guess my quote/recommendation would be: Don’t be afraid to volunteer as an instructor for other people or platform’s courses. I got new clients from the exposure, even though I don’t get paid for every student that takes my course.”

Key takeaway: Experiment with different ways to promote your thought leadership and scale based on what works. You will notice the effectiveness of this strategy over time.

Showcase Your Uniqueness

Let’s face it. Agencies are a dime a dozen, so competition is fierce. And nowadays, anyone can build an impressive website and implement smart marketing. That makes it so one of the best ways to land new clients is to stand out in the sea of agencies brands can partner with.

Marshal Davis from Ascendly Marketing has landed clients for his agency by doing unique and engaging social media campaigns. He shared these two examples:

“1) Sponsored a Detox from Social Media Event: As ironic as it sounds, sponsoring a weekend retreat for business owners and decision-makers to ‘unplug’ from social media worked. We had some fellow business owners already committed to doing it, but the viral nature of it locally got us some clients due to the exposure.

2) Worst Social Media Mistakes’ Contest: we had people share with us funny pages or posts. We blurred out the brands and shared them in our newsletter. We got amazing engagement on it and a couple of new clients, too.”

Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to stand out and try something creative. Be sure to engage your audience for maximum impact.

What are your own strategies for landing new business at your agency? I would love to read all about it in the comments below.

Kristen DeGroot

Kristen DeGroot has been growing and scaling agencies for over a decade and recently decided to turn her experience into an agency for agencies and launched The Campfire Circle. Kristen loves collaborating, offers free consultations, and hopes you reach out to her at [email protected]. When Kristen isn't working hard to generate leads for agencies, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son.

View all posts by Kristen DeGroot